Active Shooter Situation — What Should Teachers Do?


Active Shooter Situation

There was another Active Shooter Situation, this time in Florida — A recent survey showed that about 50% of teachers do not know what to do. Read below from a training session with my local police on the best steps for teachers and students.

This article is a summary of a Police seminar on an active shooter situation and focuses on:

  • The teacher’s role regarding what to do in an active shooter event
  • What items can secure the classroom and deny the shooter entry to the classroom
  • What teachers/students do once law enforcement arrives and why.

Keep this 3 word strategy in mind Escape, Evade, Defend.  Police use this mantra to educate people in situations where there is an active shooter. The police can arrive on an active shooter site within 5 minutes. They have learned many tactics from the (1999) Colorado Columbine School tragedy. The most important is the immediacy of entering the school and finding the shooter. The police department’s job is to stop the killing, evacuate the innocent, and then stop the dying in that order.   Your job (as a teacher or student) is to stay alive. What people do within that initial 5 minute period will determine whether they live or die.

Strategies taught by the police include:

  1.  Be aware of your surroundings. Always know where the exits to the building are. Recognize anything unusual, don’t be in denial of what is happening around you.
  • Once you recognize an active shooter situation, ESCAPE if you can. The reenactments of the Columbine School Tragedy show some students evacuated out of the school area, while others hid. The students who hid under a table behind a chair were found by the shooters and shot. Do not hide and hope. 1st evaluate if you can escape. If you can’t evade.
    • If you can’t escape the location, you EVADE the active shooter by using cover and moving to a safe location where you can lock a door, turn out lights, keep out of sight, everybody must be quietNO NOISE but be prepared to fight. There are books, chairs, phones to throw and people to tackle the shooter.
  • If the worse happens, DEFEND. Do not stand there and cry or plead while waiting for your turn to be shot. You have to change the fear emotion to the anger emotion. Everyone tackles, hits, fights or throws whatever you have. No matter what happens, rush the shooter.

As the police says, you fight like you are the 3rd monkey fighting for a place on the ARK. ADVICE FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT: Do not fight fair. The most vulnerable body parts are the eyes (gouge), the throat (karate chop) and the groin (kick/knee). Your elbow is the hardest part of your body. Use it to your advantage. (Example: I had two sacks of golf balls. I figured with 30 students who each had 3 old crummy golf balls, it would equal something similar to 90 speeding bullets. At least it would be a great distraction.)

2.  Secure the classroom: after the Columbine tragedy my classroom door was locked after the tardy bell rang. There was a moveable whiteboard that could be positioned so the class room was not visible from the window in the door. I kept a belt that could be tied around the door closer to prevent the door from being opened.

See Picture below of a sample classroom door closer:

Yale Door Closer one example

   Just tie a belt or rope around the 2 arms and the door will not be able to open.

3.  Law Enforcement/police are trained to first Stop the Killing. They do not know who the bad guys are, so when they arrive in your location with guns drawn, do exactly what they tell you which will be HANDS UP. Police are trained to watch the hands, so show them the palms of your hands with fingers spread WIDE. When your hands are up with fingers spread wide open, the police do not feel threatened.   Hands going to the waist can be interpreted as a threat.   KEEP YOUR HANDS UP while you go where they tell you to go. Do not argue. They don’t have time to argue, they are looking for the shooter. Medical people can’t stop The Dying until the shooter is apprehended and the building is evacuated. During active shooter incidents the statistics are 4 people shot — 3 people dead per minute. Minutes count.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Police have families too. They want to be able to go home at the end of the shift. Police are the people who run into danger while the rest of us are running away from danger. They experience the natural body reactions of danger — elevated adrenaline, elevated heart rate, elevated stress, narrowed vision that impact their perspective of what is happening. Hands going to the waist may/can/will be interpreted as reaching for a gun. Police do not like to be shot at or threatened with bodily harm by crazy people with guns, knives or baseball bats. They are trained to shoot at the center of the body until every bullet is used for a reason.  That’s how to stop the bad guy. It’s not pretty.   If what you do is interpreted as threatening, they are trained to respond with force.

If you do not understand this, go thru a police training modular where you have to make split second decisions and see how many times you are shot because you didn’t follow the protocol and instead yelled a warning or tried to shoot a gun out of someone’s hand and other police show myths. (In our community (an Atlanta suburb), the police department have given citizens this opportunity. First hand experience tends to changes attitudes.)





2 thoughts on “Active Shooter Situation — What Should Teachers Do?

  1. Janet McCoy Post author

    Thanks for the information. What does the Bearacade system do?
    Hope you found the rest of the information useful. Our community is having regular police education sessions and I found it helpful. Some of them are very specific for schools.
    Thanks again for your comment.

  2. Denise Williams

    Our school just acquired devices called Bearacade systems. They are now hanging close to every classroom and office door. I hope we don’t have to use them in an emergency, but they make sense to me. We don’t have door closures on most of our doors.

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